Getting kids outdoors and in nature
Getting kids off screens and outdoors can sometimes be challenging, but the benefits are numerous – for both you and your child.
Walking in nature is good for you
Studies in recent years have shown that walking in nature is not only beneficial physically, but mentally, too, with improvements to moods, creativity, focus, memory and self-esteem.
Before my partner and I had children we would often go on bushwalks. And we didn’t want to give it up after having kids – modify yes, stop no.
However getting them to come along willingly – and remain willing during the walk – was sometimes a struggle. So we got advice from other parents and tried out techniques ourselves and now, I’m happy to say, our kids don’t need prompting at all.
The art of persuasion – techniques to try on your kids
- Start bushwalking with your kids while they are still young.
- Make sure the walk is just long enough so they don’t get overly tired or all they will remember the next time you mention a walk is being pooped.
- Have a few lollies in your pocket and reward them with a treat when they reach certain points along the track.
- When the kids are older, swap the lollies for challenges, such as who can be first to the top of the hill/the tall tree/the big boulder. Our kids do this without any intervention from us now, and usually scramble up anything and everything that can be climbed. (image up tree at fraser island)
- Make the walk educational by pointing out plants and animals you know. Get the kids to be quiet sometimes and listen out for different bird calls. Try and find where the birds are in the trees – its really rewarding when you see the bird making the sound. We have a bird book and will consult this at home if we see a bird we haven’t seen before.
- If your kids love animals, tell them that they may see wildlife during the walk. Animals we have seen on bushwalks on the northern beaches include echidnas, goannas, water dragons, blue tongue lizards, wallabies or possums.
More information on how hiking can improve your mind.